Interview by Tony Cannella
In the past 30-years trends have come and gone in the fickle music industry, yet German thrash metal legends Holy Moses remain. They may not be the biggest band in the world or have achieved a huge worldwide fan base, but for over 30-years they have remained true to themselves and their core audience, and whatever you think of the band, they deserve respect. Recently Holy Moses issued a 2-disc compilation to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the band. Lead vocalist Sabina Classen and bass player Olli Jaath were kind enough to talk to us about it and other things involving Holy Moses.
First of all, congratulations on 30 years in existence for Holy Moses. Please tell us about the recently released 2-disc compilation.
Olli : Many thanks. We sat together in the Absurd Studio in Hamburg and listened to all records except the latest one (“Agony of Death”). We looked for the songs which the fans want to hear and those which are great but not so common. Additionally we checked our fan club network. I think we found a good balance. It´s great to have the old tracks now in a great sound robe. All of them sound much heavier and better than on the old records.
Are you doing anything else to commemorate such a milestone?
Olli: Well. Not really. We are looking forward to playing our next shows. We already started the songwriting for the next studio record. So we are busy to do our next step.
How do you feel about the 30th anniversary? Do you ever get a chance to reflect on the past 30 years?
Sabina : I feel wonderful with the 30th anniversary. I am reflecting a lot of times about the past 30 years. Especially when we recorded the album, a lot of memories came back into my mind. I remembered names and situations with the band and I was laughing a lot of the time to myself because we did so many things without knowing anything about promotion, marketing and management. I did the things like I was feeling, sometimes really naïve. But I think this keeps us still working on. I think this is the wonderful thing with Holy Moses; we only do what we love to do.
How did you both come to join Holy Moses?
Sabina : It is a real true and funny story. My boyfriend Andy was playing in our school band Holy Moses – Andy Classen – and I was sitting in the rehearsal room and listening to them. One day, bandleader and boss Ramon Bruessler (bass) fired the singer and so Ramon said to me – “Hey Sabina, you are sitting here, doing nothing, go to the microphone and sing”. I answered to him “I can’t sing”, but he gave to me the microphone and I had no other choice and I did a deep growl, I was wondering to myself what came out of me, and I thought, now they know, Sabina can’t sing. Ramon got a big smile on his face and responds to me – “do it again”, I did it again, and he said “Sabina, you are the new singer of Holy Moses“. I thought, this guy is kidding me, but it was true. It was the date, 3rd December 1981, and since this date I am the singer of Holy Moses.
Olli : Sabina and I have known each other since 2000 and I joined Holy Moses in 2006. Sabina asked me to help them out for some gigs as a bass player. Normally I play guitar. Besides Holy Moses I play the guitar for my other band Reckless Tide. After Thomas entered the band I switched from bass to guitar.
How do you feel Holy Moses has changed and evolved in the last 30 years?
Sabina : I think we did always what we were feeling. I have many sides in myself, and the most important fact is I am not thinking about it, I just do what I like to do and feel.
Olli: Holy Moses went through many musical changes. Heavy Metal, thrash metal, death metal, Punk, Hardcore but the thrash factor was always the dominant part. Nowadays I would say that Holy Moses stands for a more complex kind of thrash metal with a heavier weighting on hook lines and melodies.
Can we expect new material from Holy Moses soon?
Sabina : My guys in the band are working already on new material, and I am always writing lyrics. So I can work on my daily impressions about life.
Olli: Yes, we are already collecting ideas and riffs for the next record coming out 2013. So don’t worry.
When Holy Moses first got together, who would you site as your influences?
Sabina : I really don’t know. At the time I just loved Black Sabbath, AC/DC. I did not have so many albums, and I was not listening so much to music. I think my life influenced me always, and this is still going on, all that I am doing is coming deep from my soul.
For you, what has been the highlight so far?
Sabina : My highlight is that I am doing Holy Moses since 30 fucking years, so my highlight is really to do all these years. I was able to visit so many countries and getting in contact with so many people around nearly the whole world. I think getting in contact with so many cultures is the biggest highlight you can get in your life.
Olli: My personal highlight was our tour through Japan in 2009. It was our first time and it was very great to meet all the people, discover the country and play all the shows over there. I hope we can come back very soon.
Any low points?
Sabina : Yes, like life can be, but each low point lets me get more energy and experience for my life. I think everything in your life is something you have to do, to get into the next level of your life..
Olli: Yep, our tour with Benediction in 2008. This tour, thanks to our former booking agency MAD, was horrible and done without any organization. The tour bus broke several times including a fire, venues didn´t know that we are coming, no advertising, etc. Everything bad you could imagine happened. The cool thing was the great relationship between the guys from Benediction and us.
Sabina, You were one of the – if not the – first women in extreme metal. Do you feel like an influence or inspiration to others who have followed?
Sabina: Yes, I really know now, that I was the very first growling and extreme music woman in metal. And I think this is also a milestone and something real special. I feel great with it, if anybody – male or female – got from my music and my strength power and energy to do also steps in his life, to be happy.
Sabina, I read somewhere that you are also involved in managing bands. Can you please tell us how you got into that and are there any bands we should be on the lookout for?
Sabina : I did some years, a kind of helping hand for some younger bands. But I stopped with it, because I love to have my music as a kind of hobby, to work on myself. In my other life, I am working as a natural humanistic psychotherapist and this is what I love to do for my profession.
Which do you prefer, the management or performance end of things?
Sabina : The only thing is to perform on stage in metal – and doing management is nothing for me anymore. I am not a really good manager, because I do not like to be in stressful situations with people, so I do not like to make hard business decisions.
You also joined Doro on stage for her 25th anniversary. What was that experience like?
Sabina: Yes, I joined Doro on stage – often times – she is a really good friend of mine since the 80s, and every time when we have the chance to sing together, we always do. To be on stage with her on her 25th anniversary was a really great moment, Doro is a great woman.
Obviously the music industry has changed since Holy Moses first began. What do you feel has been the biggest difference and most positive development in music over the past 30 years?
Sabina : Ha ha ha, yes so many things have changed, but not Holy Moses – and one thing of the wonderful new world is the internet, so I can be in contact with our friends all the time. About the bad things I do not want to think about it, I take the development like it is and a try to always make the most positive out of it.
Who are some current bands that you like?
Sabina : I still love all the stuff like Ozzy Osbourne, but also I like my mates from Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Tankard and Doro, Slayer, Tom Gabriel Warrior and still Venom and Possessed – but I am listening mostly in my silent moments to world music.
Olli : I am still a fan of the bay area thrash metal. Bands like Exodus, Testament and Anthrax influenced my play. I still like the last outputs of these bands. To mention newer bands I can say Havoc and Warbringer.
Sabina, in the mid to late 90s you also fronted a band called Temple of the Absurd and released two albums. What is your opinion of those albums today and do you think they might ever get re-issued?
Sabina : It was a great time with Temple of the Absurd and I learned a lot of things for my life. It was really a time of a Rock’n’Roll life, and I think I will have this always in my soul and mind. I do not know yet, if we will re-issue these albums.
At that point, why did you opt to form a new band and put Holy Moses on hold?
Sabina : At that point, some things changed in my life in private ways and so I had to do a new step in my life and I was feeling that I had to have some experiences, and like my motto – Just do what you feel.
What can we expect from Holy Moses in the future?
Sabina : Holy Moses
Olli : A new record and hopefully many live shows.
Thank you Sabina and Olli for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on 30 years, here’s to 30 more. In conclusion, is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans?
Sabina : So many thanks for supporting us over all these years – and being behind us, and giving us the chance to go on with something we love to do.
Olli : Many thanks for all the support over all these years. We will see you on tour. Thrash on!!